I heard her say the words but I found it difficult to comprehend them. For some reason I took my hand away from hers.
“Sorry Ginny. Did you say you and Dad have a son?”
She put her hand to her mouth. I could see her green eyes begin to water.
“I’m sorry Tommy. I shouldn’t have said anything. I know it’s a shock. Perhaps I should leave.”
She stood up and started to button up her coat. I didn’t want her to go. Not yet.
“Sit down Ginny. I’m fine, really. Just shocked that’s all. You sit down and I’ll get us another couple of drinks.”
She sat back down and I went to the bar. I returned with two more G&T’s. I could see she was apprehensive so I decided to break the ice once more.
“You really are one for surprises Ginny. I think we deserve these drinks so take a sip and then tell me all about your son Bobby. My brother.”
She did as I asked. She took a large swig of her Gin and Tonic and then told me the story.
“Bobby was born in 1979. Let me tell you straightaway Tommy it wasn’t my idea. As soon as I knew I was pregnant I was adamant that I’d have an abortion but your dad was having none of it. He really wanted the baby. You were all grown up by then, getting married if I remember correctly?”
She was right. I got married in 1979 at the age of twenty one. Only lasted a few years, no kids, thank god. I nodded and gestured for her to carry on.
“It was difficult, what with me having a full time job and your dad only being able to visit a couple of times a week. But somehow we got through it.”
It was all coming back to me. Back in 1979 Dad started doing long haulage. He kept saying they could do with the extra money. But he’d be away two or three nights per week. Mum hated him being away but he did it for six or seven years then went back to local jobs. Ginny was still talking and I heard her say something about prison.
“Sorry Ginny what was that last bit?”
She stopped in mid sentence then repeated.
“Bobby went to prison in 2006. Broke your Dads heart it did.”
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any weirder they just did.
“What did he go to prison for?”
She seemed a little embarrassed to tell me. Her voice trembled as she said the words.
“He got involved with a bad crowd. They held up a Building Society in Walthamstow. Used replica guns. They got caught and all sentenced to ten years.”
I was doing the sums in my head. Bobby gets done for armed robbery in 2006, the same year Dad had a heart attack and died. When she said it broke his heart she was right. It did. There was one thing I desperately needed to know.
“When did Bobby get sentenced exactly in 2006?”
I could see Ginny thinking. She spoke softly, it was as if she didn’t want me to know.
“March, the twenty sixth.”
Fuck me. Everything was now falling into place. My dad was the fittest, strongest man I’d ever known. Never a day sick in his life. Looked twenty years younger than his age. Yet at the start of 2006 he changed. He suddenly looked old. In April of that year he had a massive heart attack and was dead before he hit the ground. Just seventy three years of age. Know I knew why. Because of this fucker Bobby. My half brother. Ginny could see I was angry.
“Don’t blame Bobby. Your Dad was already complaining of chest pains a year before he died. I tried to get him to go to the doctors but he just wouldn’t. Kept saying it was just indigestion.”
I played it down.
“I know Ginny. No one is to blame. That’s life, as Dad would say. So where is Bobby now? Not still locked up?”
I could see that Ginny was relieved.
“No, he was released four years ago in 2013. Served seven years out of his ten. I visited him regularly while he was away. Wandsworth then Bedford then Peterborough. I went as often as I could. But one day I turned up and they said he had been released. I haven’t seen him in five years now.”
Now she cried. All the talk about Dad and never a tear. But talking about Bobby made her tearful. My mind was racing. I knew what I had to do.
“So you’ve no idea of where he is now? Where he’s living? What he’s doing?”
She was wiping her eyes with a tissue as she spoke.
“No. Nothing. Not a word since that day. I miss him so much.”
I put my arm around her and she cried into my shoulder. We stayed like that for a few minutes before she broke away and finished her drink. Her green eyes not so green anymore.
“Look Ginny. Maybe I can help. I have a mate. A good mate who’s quite senior in the Police. I’ll get him to do some digging. Maybe I can find out where Bobby is. Help him out if he’s in any trouble. I mean…I have to…he’s my brother after all.”
It was a lie, but she beleived me and threw her arms aroung my neck.
“Oh thank you Tommy. I’d love that. You really are a good boy. Just like your dad always said you were.”
We talked for another fifteen minutes. Ginny told me everything she could about Bobby. She even had his National Insurance number written down in a small notebook that she kept in her bag. I offered to give her a lift home but she wanted to take the bus and do some shopping at Asda on her way back. I collected my car and drove home. Just one thought on my mind.
I needed to find this fucker. This scum bag Bobby. This thirty eight year old bastard who’d been the cause of my father’s death.
I needed to see Uncle Ted from “the other side”. Uncle Ted was a “face” in South London and if anyone would know how to find Bobby he ‘d be the man.